On a chilly Saturday evening in early January, a quiet little gallery nestled on the bank of Mill Lake in Abbotsford suddenly became not so quiet when it hosted the first installment of 2019’s Fraser Valley Biennale. The biennale has been a recurring event since 2011, and has connected the art being produced in our local community to the broader contemporary art community in Canada. The Kariton Art Gallery is headquarters for the Abbotsford Arts Council (AAC), an organization known for its extensive involvement in local arts and culture. This makes it a fitting starting point for this year’s migrating show.
A biennale can be defined as a large art exhibition or festival usually held every two years in celebration of both art and artists. In the Fraser Valley’s case, our recurring biennale travels across the Valley and back over the course of a year, visiting many different participating galleries along the way.
The next stop for the show will be opening at Kent Harrison Arts Council (KHAC) on Sunday, Mar. 3 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Other participating galleries include the O’Connor Group Gallery (hosted by the Chilliwack Visual Artist Association) showing from June 6 to 29, and the Rock Family Gallery (hosted by the Mission Arts Council) showing from July 20 to Aug. 17. The biennale will conclude at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, in a major exhibition that will be on display from Oct. 3 straight through until the new year, to Jan. 5, 2020.
A few individuals affiliated with UFV have work present within the show. These individuals include Fiona Howarth, who graduated from UFV’s Bachelor of Arts program in 2006; UFV BFA program advisor Paula Funk who graduated with a BFA from UFV in 2008; and visual arts professor Christopher Friesen, who is also the past president of the Abbotsford Arts Council. Other notable names who currently have work on display at the Kariton include Sharon W. Huget, Linda Nikkel Klippenstein, Dan Lefebvre, Patricia Peters, and more.
The biennale as a whole is orchestrated by Adrienne Fast, curator of art and visual culture at The Reach. Fast was responsible for determining which artists would have work on display at the Kariton, as well as the remaining galleries.
All accomplished artists who reside in the Fraser Valley region, from Hope to Langley, may submit work. In order to ensure that the biennale is celebrating the most current work of Fraser Valley artists, only pieces that have been produced in the last two years (2017-2018 inclusive) are accepted. The works must also be deemed original visual work in order to make it into the exhibition.
The previous biennale, held in 2017, included over 20 artists from around the region. It was considered a huge success, and was very well attended. Hopes for an equally successful year for 2019 resonate in the minds of participants and organizers alike, especially in the wake of such a strong start. The work currently on display at the Kariton is an eclectic mix of a wide variety of mediums, effectively showcasing the creativity of the Fraser Valley community.
This exhibition will remain on display at the Kariton until Feb. 5, 2019.
Images: David Myles/The Cascade